Millions of people all around the world have signed up for the social network "twitter." Celebrities are using it to get their message out -- raw and uncensored by their publicists or managers.
Technology expert Katie Linendoll said on "The Early Show" Twitter is an important measure of star power as some celebrities have millions of fans following the postings of their daily thoughts or activities. But Twitter isn't just for stars and star struck fans, it's becoming a popular platform for everyone.
Twitter is the fastest-growing social network in the world, built around one quirky noun: the tweet.
A tweet is a text-based message consisting of 140 characters or less.
When someone tweets, they become part of a global conversation. And since there are no limits on what you can say, Twitter has become the ultimate soapbox.
However, none have embraced this trend quite like celebrities. Pop music superstar Lady Gaga has over 6.5 million followers, making her Twitters' most popular user. She and other stars use the site to speak directly to their fans anytime, anywhere.
Lynette Rice, of Entertainment Weekly, said, "It cuts out the middleman, it cuts out the publicists because it's true, unfiltered celebrity."
Recently, Ashton Kutcher tweeted against tabloid allegations that he cheated on wife Demi Moore, claiming "defamation of character" - Demi shrugs off the rumors by posting pictures of the happy couple -- even a shot of them in bed.
And just last week, embattled actress Lindsay Lohan confessed to the world that she'd relapsed in her struggle with addiction. "I did in fact fail my most recent drug test," she tweeted -- perhaps an attempt to beat the press by leaking her own gossip.
Hip-hop star Kanye West only needed 17 of the 140 characters to say "I'm sorry" to singer Taylor Swift for his behavior at last year's video music awards.
But not all celebs are on board. Miley Cyrus and Amanda Bynes both closed their Twitter accounts after negative attention.
And John Mayer, one of the most active celebrities on Twitter, just announced to his 3.7 million followers that he's unplugging from the network as he heads back into the recording studio.
While it might be distracting for some, Twitter addicts crave the breaking news alerts, access to special contests or coupons, and, of course, instant updates on their family and friends.
So, if you're not already tweeting, Linendoll said, it might be time to join the conversation.
But how do you do it?
Linendoll shared these Twitter tips:
• Twitter is not too complicated! It's not! I promise. Once you sign up, which you only have to do once, it's just like logging into email. And I should mention, it's totally free. You go to Twitter.com, you choose a user name and a password. You don't even have to put your real name. You can pick a profile picture if you want, you can choose a background which is always fun.
• Getting started. The idea is to follow people or companies you find interesting. Then people can also find and follow you. You can leave your tweets private but you really don't get the full experience that way.
• "Good" and "Bad" tweets. Remember, people READ what you are saying. So make it useful. Here's an example of what not to do. BAD TWEET: "I'm so tired. Gonna drink some green tea." Boooooring. No one cares! Now, here's an example of a good, informative tweet: GOOD TWEET: "Watching an Early Show segment on Twitter! Check it out!" You can send links or photos, funny status updates…just remember to keep it entertaining!
• Getting Involved. Every time you log on, in your home page you'll see tweets of everything the people you are following are saying. For example I follow a lot of tech people and its one of the resources I use most to stay ahead of the curve and stay informed. It can be whatever you want it to be. The other day my umbrella broke I found the company on Twitter and they responded right away. Also, if you have a smartphone, like a BlackBerry or a iPhone, you can download free applications and tweet from your phone.
• Learning the vocabulary. Once you start to wrap your head around the Twitter basics and how it's laid out - know the vocab. Remember, you have a limit of 140 characters, so people use a lot of shorthand because every letter counts!
@username - The @ sign. You've probably seen this even if you don't tweet. It basically calls someone out. If you put an @before a user name that means you are sending that person the message. So I could say (@theearlyshow thanks for having me on this morning!) And you guys would be notified that I'm tweeting about you!
RT or Re-Tweet - SO RT means Retweet - It's like quoting someone, but giving them credit. If you think something someone said is worth putting on your own page you can just click the retweet button and it will appear on your page. People do this a lot with breaking news or funny tweets.
"Follower" versus "following" - You'll see under your name two things: the people who read your tweets, called your "followers", and then the people whose tweets YOU read, called "following"… They aren't always the same. You may follow Kanye West…but he probably isn't following you!
Trending - This is really cool. So, twitter will show you what topics are trending. That means, what are all the millions of people on twitter talking about the most. Sometimes, it's as random as Maple Syrup and Merry Christmas, but other times, it can be real time news like Segway.